February 26, 2007

Washing the blood away

Camp uses American Indian traditions to help soldiers healOrganizers wanted Thompson’s help because of his American Indian heritage. His grandmother was a Shawnee and grandfather was a Nez Perce.

The idea was for Thompson to lead retreat participants through traditional American Indian warrior ceremonies. It made sense to him, the 59-year-old said, because even though weapons and strategies change from war to war, the psychological impact is much the same.

So Thompson and his wife, Kelli, a social worker, decided to give it a try. They attended their first retreat in April. By the end of that weekend, they were convinced they had been called there by a higher power.

The camp is open to any U.S. soldier, but most participants have recently returned from deployment in the Middle East, Thompson said. The majority suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, and many are suicidal or are a signature away from divorce.

But when the soldiers participate in the ceremonies of his ancestors, Thompson said, they undergo a visual transformation. The rituals validate their service, he said, and prepare them for the future, whether that means living on the home front or going back to war.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Of course, it works. Back in the Viet Nam Era, when this nation's public support for that war disintegrated, the returning soldiers were held to blame more than government, though those men truly had little control whether they had to go or not. Only Native Americans continued to honor their returning soldiers with feasting and singing and dancing and other such warrior honors. Whether others on this website will agree or not, there is an undercurrent of appreciation for the Native American past of this land and that, combined with the sense also of having defended the land itself with their lives, leads to the very vindication that the ceremonies bring. Why no one, even writerfella, did not think of this heretofore is difficult to explain, though writerfella in the mid-1970s did offer a pageant play to the local American Indian Expo held here every August. Basically an historical overview of warriorhood in the New World, its climax identified that Native Americans were the only ones still honoring their Viet Nam returnees. The Expo Board listened to writerfella's pitch and presentation, discussed it at length, but ended up voting against it. Why? They feared upsetting and alienating their white tourist audiences, despite the fact that there were no stereotypes or fictions contained in the proposed pageant presentation. It left writerfella with the realization that truth always is an elusive quality/quantity, even among Native Americans...
All Best

Rob said...

Some quotes from Indians as Warriors:

We will win this war. Not with arrow or bow or knife, nor with club or our bare hands, but with the strength that has always been within us, the strength of this land, the strength of our peoples who you can never kill.

--Svhyeyi Aga aka Evening Rain, Web posting

This information is so valuable, this is the weapon—it's not guns or rocks, it's information. It empowers us.

--Victor Rocha (Pechanga), article